You don’t have to own a bulky digital camera to take photos like a pro. We are already comfortable with carrying around our Smartphones. Only that the Smartphones sometimes do not give us the exact coveted quality a digital camera can produce. Well, with just a little hardware tweak to your Smartphone, you can be in the league of professional photographers.
In this video, GEOFFREY A. FOWLER of WSJ shares secrets he discovered that can enable anyone take really great high definition quality pictures and videos:
It’s all about external lens for mobile phones:
My secret is a collection of keychain-size lenses that attach to my phone when I need them. For snapping concerts—as well as cityscapes, fancy cappuccinos and sunset selfies—these add-ons help the basic lens built into the phone zoom in or get a much wider view. These lenses may feel gimmicky, but some of them are actually good, Geoffrey shared.
You can take incredible photos with the latest Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones. But old-fashioned cameras still have one major advantage: real lenses.
WE FOUND A RAW REVIEW ON AMAZON FROM A USER WHO TRIED ALL THE LENSes MENTIONED: telephoto, fisheye, wide and macro lens
The item arrived well packaged and in a travel pouch of it’s own. Open the pouch, and you find 3 clips and 3 lenses – a zoom lens, a wide angle lens and a fish eye lens. Look closer and you’ll realise that the wide angle lens is actually a combination of 2 lenses: the macro lens at the bottom and another lens on top. Unscrew the lens on top, and you now have a separate macro lens. 2 of the clips are of roughly the same reach, while the third one is a little longer. You can mount any lens on to any clip and you choose the clip depending on the phone that you have. The lenses themselves are screwed into a plastic mount in the case and are easy to unscrew. Having said that, screwing the zoom lens back into place is almost a nightmare and is an experience that has been echoed by others.
Now, onto the lenses themselves. The wide angle lens (which is a neat combination of 2 lenses stacked on top of each other) does a good job of cramming significantly more into the frame. The distortion is very little, but the edges are very soft. One thing to note – there seems to be virtually no loss in light – a consistently good thing across the lenses. The detail captured, which depends a lot on your phone’s camera, was top notch on my S7 Edge. Unscrew the top half of this wide angle lens combo, and you’re now left with the macro lens. This is a true macro lens and it can produce great macro shots with amazing bokeh of a lot of knick knacks that you wouldn’t have considered shooting earlier. Be prepared to move REALLY CLOSE to the subject, and shoot away. Just one caveat, though: Some cameras can seem to have difficulty focusing from up so close, but once you find out the right distance at which it will focus, you should be just fine.
The fish eye lens is more of a novelty as far as I’m concerned, as you’re going to end up with a small round image which is a super wide image of everything in the plane in front of the lens (so wide that it will mostly include your fingers behind the phone as well). You can definitely get interesting results if you spend significant time cropping and processing your pictures. Given the amount that you’ll need to crop out of your picture, though, I’d think that you’d need at least a 9 MP camera to get decently usable image.
Now, onto the zoom lens. To be frank, this 3x lens is what I was most excited about. And unfortunately, it was the lens that let me down the most as well. To put it in context, while it’s great to have a wide angle lens, the panorama feature in today’s phones lets you stitch decent wide angle shots already. I agree that it’s not the same and that you can definitely more out of a wide angle lens, but if you mostly shoot outdoor landscape shots, your vertical information is mostly only going to be more clouds. A group portrait in a tight space is an area where a wide angle lens would probably be more handy, but it’s a compromise that I can live with, for the time being. Also, given the close minimum focusing distances that today’s cameras offer, the ease with which you can add bokeh, and because I hardly shoot small coins or food crumbs, I’ve not really missed a macro lens so far. Don’t get me wrong, the macro lens is a welcome addition; it’s just not been a necessity so far. The zoom lens is a completely didn’t story. Digital zoom pretty much still sucks. And, the resolution on cameras are pretty much the same at about 9-12 MP today, as compared to a couple of years back when they were at around 8 MP. If you’re someone who travels a bit, it’s not very infrequent when you come across a scenario wherein you wished you had zoom on your camera; and that’s pretty much the biggest differentiating factor between a phone camera and a Point & Shoot camera. Optical zoom requires, well, optics – which adds to bulk, cost, etc. Thus, so far, there have only been very few manufacturers who have tried to experiment with optical zoom on a phone. Given all this, you now know why I was looking so much forward to trying out the zoom lens.
I clipped on the lens and I was hit with two things at once – zoom and incredible distortion. Buildings appeared like hourglasses. The distortion wasn’t bad just at the edges of the frame, but throughout the frame – including right down the middle. Pictures are not really usable straight out of the camera. Sure, you might be able to correct it to a fair degree if you invest time in post processing, but that’s not what you shell out $40 for. I hate to say it, but the digital zoom on my phone is almost only as bad as this.
In a nutshell, the lens kits are mostly good; except for the lens that really needs to be good and the very soft edges across lenses. The build quality and packaging are very good, except with the problem that you have screwing the zoom lens back in place. Value for money is moderate at best. Overall, I hate to say it because I really wanted to like this product, but I wouldn’t recommend this product to anyone.
HERE ARE WHAT OTHER USERS ARE SAYING
Callng the images produced by smart phones “photographs” is a sick joke!
At what point do you just buy a “real” camera?
I don’t know about the “telephoto” capabilities of the add-on telephoto lens. If you look at the telephoto picture example shown, you can see that it has magnified the picture by a linear factor of about 2x over the standard picture next to it. That’s not a very high magnification telephoto lens and, IMHO, hardly deserves the name “telephoto”. As for the wide-angle lens, you can see that there is some vignetting/clipping in the lower corners of the picture.
IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, THEN YOU WILL FIND THESE EXTERNAL LENSES A GREAT STARTING POINT.